UCI Health introduces most advanced kidney stone-busting technology

Gemini system, experienced urologists, dedicated surgical suite and range of available treatments provide patients with most options

February 22, 2019
Drs. Jaime Landman, Ralph Clayman, Ramy Yaacoub and Roshan Patel (from left) show off UCI Health’s new Dornier Gemini system for the noninvasive treatment of kidney stones with shock waves.
Drs. Jaime Landman, Ralph Clayman, Ramy Yaacoub and Roshan Patel (from left) show off UCI Health’s new Dornier Gemini system for the noninvasive treatment of kidney stones with shock waves. 

UCI Health urologists are the first in the world to offer the latest, most advanced shockwave lithotripsy system to break up kidney stones with focused electromagnetic waves. The system, called Gemini, is a completely noninvasive therapy that complements the comprehensive range of kidney stone treatments offered by UCI Health experts. 

“The Gemini is an exciting addition to our full-service armamentarium of stone managing technologies, and we are proud to offer our patients the very latest,” said Jaime Landman, MD, professor and chair, Department of Urology, UCI School of Medicine. “There is really no other place where patients suffering from stones can find everything they need to manage their care and prevent the stones from returning.”

The UCI Health kidney stone team, led by Landman and Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, MD, pioneers in the development of minimally invasive surgery, has nine decades of experience managing kidney stones. The specially-trained team also includes fellowship trained stone experts including Ramy F. Yaacoub, MD, and Roshan M. Patel, MD. 

Kidney stones are a painful yet highly treatable condition suffered by more than 10 percent of men and about 8 percent of women in the United States. Typically, stones that don’t pass on their own may require one of several procedures to break them up, including percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), which involves the use of a ureterscope combined with ultrasound guidance. 

With Gemini technology, minimally invasive ureteroscopy and percutaneous stone removal, UCI Health urologists have completely eliminated open surgery, Landman said. If someone recommends open surgery to remove a kidney stone, it is a good idea to get a second opinion.

Gemini relies on soundwave technology to break up stones, a technology pioneered by the German firm Dornier in the 1980s. While the therapy worked, the technology required large, cumbersome equipment. Success rates dropped as smaller more portable units were introduced. Urologists and patients were also concerned about side effects, including damage to surrounding tissue. The technology fell out of favor as urologists came to rely on other invasive, but minimally so, procedures to break up and destroy large stones. 

The new Gemini system housed in a customized, dedicated urology surgical suite at UCI Medical Center has sharper imaging and more focused, powerful shockwaves than its predecessors – promises to change all that. Clayman believe the newer technology has the potential to disintegrate larger, harder and deeper stones than previous machines.

While the UCI Health team excels at the medical and surgical management of kidney stones, preventing their recurrence is equally important.  

After treatment to remove or destroy the stones, UCI Health urologists work with the patient to prevent a recurrence. All patients with complex stone disease undergo a comprehensive metabolic evaluation, including 24-hour urine and serum metabolic evaluations. The results allow UCI Health experts to help guide patients by optimizing diet, vitamin supplements and occasional medical therapy to minimize or prevent development of future stones.

“People need to know that this is largely a preventable disease,” Clayman said. “Simply increasing fluid intake eliminates stone development in 50 percent of patients. Dietary changes also are helpful.” 

UCI Health comprises the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, California. The 417-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. It is the primary teaching hospital for the UCI School of Medicine. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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